[Wikipedia-l] Re: How Wikipedia breaks the GNU/FDL

Andre Engels engels at uni-koblenz.de
Wed Aug 6 10:05:11 UTC 2003

On Wed, 6 Aug 2003, Nicholas Knight wrote:

> I'm not a lawyer. Anyone taking anything in the below text as legal advice
> should be drawn and quartered.
> on Wednesday 06 August 2003 00:40 -0700, Andre Engels wrote:
> > 4B: We do not list the author of the last version plus at least five
> > authors
> >     of the old version on the title page.
> To quote from 4B:
> "...unless they release you from this requirement."
> One could easily argue that Wikipedia recieves an implicit release based on
> the fact that it is self-evident to contributors before they submit anything
> that we do not list the authors in this way.

Ah, yes. I used the GNU/FDL as shown on the Dutch Wikipedia. That shows
Version 1.1, which does not contain that bit. Version 1.2, which is shown
on the English version and on GNU's own page, does indeed contain it.

> > 4E: We do not add a copyright notice each time a new document is
> > created.
> To quote 4E in its entirety:
> "E. Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications
>    adjacent to the other copyright notices."
> WHAT other copyright notices?

The copyright notice that is there in the document because of 4F+addendum.

> >4F+addendum: The license notice of Wikipedia is not in the
> > prescribed form,
> >     and it is not put on the title page
> The only person concievably able to try and enforce that provision on
> documents submitted to Wikipedia without looking like a complete idiot in
> front of everyone -- including U.S. courts -- would be the original author,
> and he'd have a time of it.


> Need I say more?

So you are basically saying that because we are not likely to get sued for
it in court, it does not matter? In that case, I propose that we announce that
we shift from GNU/FDL to CC license in a few months' time as soon as possible.
I don't think anyone would mind, and if someone does, we can still remove
their text at request. If then they still want to go to court, they'll have a
hard time arguing that the CC license (with removal on request) damaged them
in a way the GNU/FDL would not have.

To avoid withdrawals from regular contributors hanging above us as a sword of
Damocles, we could program it so that the first edit after the announcement
of the switch entails an automatic acceptance that previous edits are moved
to the CC license unless one has objected within a certain time period.

Andre Engels

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